Wednesday, March 04, 2009

We're All Going To Die!

At least that's what you'd think from the emails I have been getting lately.

Now don't get me wrong. I love it when people send me an email asking for information about the island. I'm always glad to answer their questions as best I can. I wish I had had somebody to quiz before I visited Huatulco recently. So I can appreciate people's desire to get further information about someplace they are about to visit....or want to visit. But there is one question I have been getting a lot lately. It is this:

Am I going to be safe on Isla Mujeres?

There seems to be a big push going on right now in the USA to scare people away from Mexico. I have read online the stories of the State Dept warning Spring Breakers to stay away. I have seen the shows of the drug business related violence. The scenes of shoot outs, decapitated bodies and kidnappings out of control. If I didn't live here, I might be scared too.

People, let's get a little real. Yes, there has been an alarming increase in violent crimes and murders in Mexico. But where and why? These drug wars are taking place amongst rival drug gangs. Not against the populace as a whole. And most of it is contained to border states to the USA. Funny, isn't it, that the greatest crime is so close to the USA. Makes one wonder if we aren't inadvertently playing a role in causing some of this violence. That's another subject though.

Let me say this as loudly as I can

Tourists are not being targeted and are not in danger in Mexico.

Unless they are part of the drug trafficking. And I doubt that very much.

IMHO, it is perfectly safe for tourists to come to little Isla Mujeres without fear. Or even Cancun for that matter. Like any big city, Cancun has areas I would not go to and I doubt that tourists would even know these areas exist. But the island is still safe, sane and secure. You can still walk safely anywhere you want on this island, any time night or day. Even a single woman is safe wondering the streets here. Unless you call getting whistled at by horny workmen life threatening.

That said, crime does happen. Just recently there was a rash of hotel room break-ins on the island. Let me clarify that. Not break-ins, burglaries of opportunity. The accused culprit, an Italian living here, has been apprehended and hopefully that will be the end of it. The island is not what it was in the 80's or 90's. There are just too many people living here. And, evidently, with an increase of people comes an increase in crime.

If you live here or if you are a tourist, use common sense. Lock your doors when you leave your room. Close and lock your windows, if locks are provided. Put your valuables in the safe or leave them at the front desk. They usually have a safe for you to use. Don't leave your stuff unattended at the beach. The days where you could leave your camera or other valuables on your blanket while you take a swim are long gone. Don't buy drugs from shop keepers. Don't let yourself get so drunk that you don't know what you are doing or with whom. Never tell strangers where you are staying. Just take some precautions that make sense and your vacation will be all you wanted it to be.

So if you have a ticket to fly down here, or are thinking of getting a ticket, get on that plane! There are many people here just waiting to make your vacation as much fun as you had hoped it would be!

16 comments:

K.W. Michigan said...

Thanks for this post .. Just left a comment on CancunCanuck's post. I'm sick of hearing bad things about my home away from home. Why are people scared? There is MORE crime here in the US. Guess they live in a bubble!

Jackie said...

One word "AMEN".

Jamqueen said...

Great post, Wayne. I agree with what you said. Just use common sense! I think many leave it behind when they go on vacation. Things are changing here, too. We might even have to start locking our house & stop leaving the keys in the car!

~E~ said...

Well said. I too, have been getting a lot of emails with the same questions and concerns. Thanks for the great post.

Anonymous said...

As a frequent traveller to Mexico Yucatan some people have been telling me about the recent warnings and think I should reconsider my upcoming trip!
I remind them what you just stated; that Isla is far from the border and that I'm not a part of a drug gang!
All I can say about the State Dept warnings is...THANK YOU; less stupid people visiting Cancun and Isla!
-Doug in CT

Anonymous said...

I am a college administrator, and I can attest that it is not just tourists who are worried about travel to Mexico. We have had a Spanish-language immersion summer study program in Playa del Carmen for several years now, and we have been getting worried questions from potential participant because of this same issue. I think it's mostly an ignorance of geography that causes the hysteria. Would people be worried about traveling to Florida if there were gang-related violence taking place in cities on the Canadian border? This ignorance may force the cancellation of our Playa summer program for the first time. It's a shame.

Life's a Beach! said...

Yes, Isla is safe. But I can see where the warnings serve a purpose. A lot of college kids have traditionally poured over the border in states like Texas and Arizona to have the poor college kids' spring break. (Mom and Dad can't buy them tickets to Cancun.) The warnings let them and their parents know (in case they've been living under a rock for the past several years) that border towns aren't safe anymore. My son attended ASU and used to go to some of those places. Actually, I don't think bars in Nogales and some of these other border towns were EVER particularly safe for college kids!

I'm sure it is a real pain in the rear to have warnings like that posted. It's a double blow when everyone's suffering with the bad economy!

Steve said...

I have been thinking of doing a broader hysteria post for some time. You may have inspired me to write it.

Fred said...

I hope your post will be convincing to my mother (88) who can't believe we would come to Isla for spring break (with our 8 year old no less) after the state department warning. Everyone in our group has been before and have no qualms. But when it gets in the papers and on 60 minutes....

Michele in Playa said...

Dear Anonymous,

I hope that you will forward on the information posted here as well as by other expats living and working in this area. Our dear friend CancunCanuck has a good list of similar articles on her blog here:
http://www.cancuncanuck.com/2009/03/resort-towns-safe-in-mexico.html

Wayne, thank you for addressing this issue!

Mary said...

Wayne was kind enough to answer a few questions before my husband and I visited Isla (Mexico for that matter) for the first time at the end of January. We had a wonderful time and felt safe. At 9:00 PM people were out walking with their young kids. Very safe and very beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the warnings are here in Canada as well and the newspapers are tying the rash of murders in Vancouver to the Mexican drug trade, and hence the Mexico travel advisory. I too am a frequent visitor to the Mayan Riviera and most recently have added Isla to my favorite place to visit. I constantly have to ward off comments from well meaning friends and family asking if I am totally crazy to be putting my life at risk. They too, do not understand the geographical difference between border towns and the Yucatan - Mexico is Mexico to them. However, I shall not be put off and will continue to visit and enjoy the wonderful people and places in what I feel is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Anonymous said...

I am fed up in Ottawa Canada of hearing how dangerous the Cancun area is and have a number of friends who will not visit Mexico because of the warnings they read in the local papers... I have travelled throughout Mexico for over 15 years and in 2009 bought a home across from Isla. The location is magnificient. My husband passed away in 09, he was the one driving, spoke Spanish etc. and I relied on him. I was afraid to drive at first, but just decided to "just do it" and have travelled on my own and enjoyed every minute of it. I want to join other expats, I am originally from Ireland living in Canada to learn more about Mexican art, food, spanish etc. and buying a second hand car, if possible. Any help you can give would be great. I will be in Cancun mid January and want to spend a lot more time there and settle in.

beaches said...

My husband and alot of our friends went to Isla a year ago and are going back in July this year. It was amazing. Felt so safe. My husband is ready to live there. Can anyone tell me about life there full time. best properties for sale, etc.? Thanks, Paula

Anonymous said...

"Funny, isn't it, that the greatest crime is so close to the USA. Makes one wonder if we aren't inadvertently playing a role in causing some of this violence. That's another subject though."

Ha ha...... ya think? Maybe if we didn't supply the market for the drugs maybe Mexico and half the US wouldn't be in the chaos that we are.....

whitney said...

Im going to be traveling ti Isla Mujeres Mexico this August for my wedding is there anything I should be worried about i will be staying at Privilege Aluxes resort. Is that a good place ?